Daily Israel Report

Knesset Turns Down Civil Marriage by Large Margin

An attempt to legalize civil marriage flopped. A new poll shows most Israelis feel part of Jewish tradition and prefer Orthodox marriage.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 7/28/2011, 12:35 PM / Last Update: 7/28/2011, 1:04 PM

Jewish Wedding
Jewish Wedding
Arutz Sheva

An attempt to legalize civil marriage flopped by a lopsided margin in the Knesset Wednesday as a new poll shows that most Israelis prefer Jewish tradition in marriages. This is despite concerted efforts in the mainstream media to give the opposite impression and claim that the laws for orthodox marriages are opposed by most secular Jews.

Supporters of the bill claimed that "religious coercion” was behind the 40-17 vote against the bill, but they were unable to explain that absent from the vote were half of the Knesset Members of the Kadima party, which said publicly that it backed the bill, and less than half of the legislature.

One Kadima MK, Orit Zuaretz, used the gimmick of wearing a wedding veil while speaking to the Knesset, but her performance did not sway anyone, except for the 17 lone MKs who voted for the measure.

Weddings and divorces for Jews in the Jewish state are performed according to Jewish law. Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman commented tat the proposed law violates “the norm upheld since establishment of Israel.”

Members of other religions can marry according to the dictates of their respective religions.

Most Israelis do not define themselves as ”orthodox” but a majority are "traditional" or identify with many traditions, as borne out by a poll by Ben Gurion University’s education department researchers. They discovered that nearly two-thirds – 66 percent – of randomly chosen respondents said they probably would not marry in a civil ceremony.

Even among those classifying themselves as secular, only half of these surveyed said they would opt for a civil marriage. 

Any Israeli citizen wanting a civil marriage can do so outside the country, usually at nearby Cyprus.